Sophie McCulloch keeps focus for Australian titles
SURFING: She is in the midst of Schoolies Week but Sophie McCulloch is adamant the celebrations will not inhibit her quest to capture the girls' under-18 crown at the Australian Junior Surfing Titles at North Stradbroke Island this weekend.
She is also carrying an injury after "almost" tearing her ankle ligament two weeks ago while jumping on her trampoline.
She hasn't surfed since the incident.
Add in to the mix the distractions of the Gold Coast glitter strip and you might think McCulloch could be up against this weekend.
She reckons she'll be fine.
"I am definitely taking it easy (this week) considering it is the Australian titles (this weekend) and there are a few girls who I will compete against that are down here too so we are in the same situation," McCulloch said.
"It has been a lot of fun down here but the surf's no good which sucks but hopefully I will get in the water soon."
McCulloch finished second at last year's Australian titles and is intent on going one better this week, despite not knowing how her ankle will hold up during the competition.
"You just don't know until you get in the water and it takes you a while to get back into it, but I am feeling pretty confident," McCulloch said.
McCulloch will go up against fellow Sunshine Coast surfers Laura Poncini and Vittoria Farmer.
She said she rated the pair among her biggest threats.
"Laura and Tori are going to be tough to beat and have been surfing well," she said.
McCulloch takes good form into the event following her seventh-placed finish at the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships in California last month.
"I was pretty happy with that result and it has given me a lot of confidence," McCulloch said.
"The injury is a setback but I am hoping to do well."
Other Sunshine Coast surfers set to compete include Aaron Kelly, Luke Glover, Amber Dodds, Will Carter, Zane Assink, Ellia Smith and Zahli Kelly.
The 2014 Australian under-16 champion, Sunshine Coast's Reef Heazlewood, will not compete this weekend.
Officials said he wanted a break from competition after a busy schedule this year, which included finishing second at the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships.
The Australian School Surfing Association Titles will be part of the event.